2011-09-29 / Front Page

Improvement board sets assessment

By Thomas Reznich

The Houghton Lake Improvement Board set the rate for the special assessment to pay for its Eurasian watermilfoil control program in 2012 during their regular meeting at the Lake Township Hall Sept. 27.

A motion to set the rate at $128 per unit was made by Roscommon Township Representative Brett Yardley, and was approved unanimously by the board. The assessment will raise approximately $600,000 which will bring the HLIB’s fund balance, which currently stands at $247,000, to around $850,000. “We never really know what is going to happen out on the lake from year to year,” said board Secretary/Treasurer Bob Gandolfi, who added that he thought the board should carry a fund balance of $800,000 to $850,000. He said the EWM control program cost $631,000 in 2011.

The assessment level will be reviewed again at the HLIB meeting in September, 2012.

The board voted to renew its professional services agreement with consulting firm Progressive AE at a rate of $69,000, down from $72,000 in 2011. Anthony Groves of Progressive said that fewer hearings and some changes in water quality testing, including no longer conducting tests on the lake’s pH and alkalinity levels accounted for the decrease in charges.

Groves presented the board with Progressive’s 2011 annual report on Houghton Lake, which noted that 1,789 acres were treated with herbicides to control EWM in 2011. The report listed 23 native species of aquatic plant that were found growing in the lake during a 2,800 point survey in June, along with three invasive species including EWM, curly leaf pond weed and starry stonewort.

Groves told the board that an area of less than one acre was treated with copper sulfate in 2011 at the Department of Natural Resources South Shore access site to control starry stonewort, and that further treatments with the herbicide may be required in 2012. He said the invasive plant, which is a type of algae that is not rooted to the bottom, can grow to between six and seven feet tall and can become a nuisance.

“This is a little bit different animal (from EWM),” said Groves, “and it’s one we’ll have to keep an eye on.” He said the plant is similar to cara, a native macro-algae, and that there may be enough of the indigenous plant growing to keep starry stonewort from spreading to many areas of the lake.

Groves also said that starry stonewort is a candidate for mechanical harvesting since it does not put down roots. He said that the HLIB has shied away from the use of copper sulfate in the lake, because it does not dissipate and builds up in the lake’s sediment. Groves added that there are no lake use restrictions associated with copper sulfate treatments.

Board Chairman James Deamud said the board will follow an “early detectionrapid response” policy when it deals with the invasive plant.

The board approved a 2012 meeting schedule that includes meetings on March 27 at Markey Township, June 19 at Denton Township, Aug. 25 at Roscommon Township and Sept. 25 at Lake Township. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

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